Jesse Griffiths pokes his head into his walk-in freezer and cracks a wry smile. The small space is bursting at the seams, filled to the brim with crates, barrels, and trays harboring Griffiths’ favorite things.
“Oh man, check this out,” he said, eyes going wide as he examines a fresh package. “Check out these fresh lemons. Just came in. That’s awesome.”
The red-bearded chef gives a tour of the shelves that wrap around the cold storage, a library of categorized ingredients ready to be plucked by one of his kitchen staffers — fresh in-season vegetables, locally killed wild boar hams, and freshly caught Pompano from the Texas coast. Griffiths knows every item, where it came from, and how it fits into one of his culinary adaptions.
He quickly shifts gears and dodges a few passing workers, breaking out into an open kitchen and bar. Griffiths is subdued and focused amidst the frantic pace of the restaurant, dialed in to the smallest details of each dish.
“It’s busy,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t make something different, a real meal that tells a story.”
There’s the Wild Boar Burger with pickled grilled mushrooms, boar pancetta, bibb, and red eye mayonnaise. There’s Mike’s Butcher Shop Hash featuring cured and smoked meats, home fries, turnip, two eggs, and beet ketchup. And be sure to try the Bison Lettuce Wraps.
Griffiths’ Austin, Texas-based Dai Due is transitioning from lunch to dinner on a Friday afternoon, all while planning for a demanding catering job the same evening.
Wild pork simmers on a grill tucked into an all-brick fireplace, glowing with coals. Some rather elegant-looking guinea fowl schnitzel sits ready for the same treatment. The supper club and butcher shop is a picture of organic fare. Its lighting, décor, and even the energy of the place seems evolved. As if Griffiths created it all at once, born out of the idea that food can only be truly rich if the space where it’s created has a sense of purpose.
“Everything here is done with care,” he said. “It all comes from our region, it all basically comes in from Texas. We live in a diverse state that touches the ocean to the south for seafood and stretches to the hill country, which has some damn good wine.”
Dai Due has gained fame as of late, both for Griffiths and his everyman approach to fine cuisine as well as its wild plates. One lunchtime tour of his living, breathing handiwork, and it’s not hard to see why.
That's precisely the reason I decided to sit down with Griffiths for episode No. 9. I wanted to get him out of the restaurant scene, go somewhere quiet and cover the concepts around sourcing food, appreciating the stories our food tells, wild pork, hunting to fill the freezer, tips on getting the most out of venison, wild turkey cooking tips, and more. I think we did that is what is a great conversation. Enjoy.
Be sure to check out Griffiths's book Afield:
Check out the YETI film on Griffiths called Full Boar: